Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The power of industrial Germany - Rammstein

When German industrial metal band Rammstein's latest album, Die Liebe ist für Alle da, begins you could be excused for thinking you were listening to the opening of a modern opera about the world's apocalypse. Choral and orchestral chords murmur and echo and a cavernous voice chants to us of the end of waiting and of the promise of a legend.

But the pounding beat of electric guitars and a massive battery of percussion breaks in and Rammstein announces its own name with a strength and authority that is commanding and arresting; and the sound of metal bashing metal, like a huge factory machine, pumps pistons of steel-like sound through your veins.

But Rammstein don't just play good metal, they play good music, where each song is structured with enormous ingenuity, like the breathless pace of 'Waidmanns Heil' with its dramatic key change half-way through, and played with astonishing precision, like the military beats and rhythms, like rapid gunfire, of the album's title song.

The music is given shape, too, by its contrasts, throwing moments of acoustic gentleness in amongst the metallic ferocity, as in 'Frühling in Paris', or massive brass chorales, as in 'B********' (which, incidentally, is a nice way of saying 'Bückstabü', which, as far as I can work out, doesn't actually mean anything - but Marty R may be able to enlighten me further on that), or the haunting, eerie, nursery-rhyme simplicty underpinning 'Roter Sand', like a spectral version of the Brecht/Weill 'Mackie Messer', giving me, I fear, nightmares for a long, long time.

For me, it is ultimately this bottomless pit of innovation and creativity with which Rammstein infuse the metal/industrial genre, combined with their gob-smacking musicianship, that makes this band, and this album, such a thrill. Everything moves at a lightning pace and, by time it ends, you feel you have to go back and listen to it again, if only to try to take stock of the massive store of ideas it contains.

Liebe ist für Alle da is one of those truly sensational albums that is able to combine the accessibility of being immediately engaging with the ongoing fascination of being inventive and inspired. You'll like it after one hearing and after one hundred you might begin to know why.

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